Posted on: May 17, 2011 10:00 am

Transfers hurt Pac-12 as much as NBA early entry

MoMo is one of several Pac-12 players on the GoGo.

Posted by Eric Angevine

The Pac-12 is every writer's favorite target these days. It's the power conference that has suffered the most from talent drain in recent seasons. Talented players are still choosing to "go West, young man", but they're not staying. Just this past season, the league lost exciting players like Arizona's Derrick Williams, UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee, Washington's Isaiah Thomas, USC's Nikola Vucevic and Washington State's Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto. All of those players declared for the NBA draft, and incoming league member Colorado lost Alec Burks and (oddly) Ryan Kelly as well.

That inability to keep mega-skilled players on campus is not unique to the Pac-10, but it does help explain why the league is putting fewer teams in the NCAA tournament than it used to. Perusing various different reports from newspapers serving Pac-10/12 schools, another equally impactful trend rears its head as well. Transfers - of mid-level and even seldom-used players - are killing the league in another way. Arizona losing MoMo Jones this week has obvious downside, but a player doesn't have to be a star to hurt his program by transferring.

The first piece of the puzzle came from this article on Arizona State's high turnover rate, written by Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic.

In  five years at Arizona State, Herb Sendek has signed 24 players, including three in his latest class.

Eight have transferred.

A ninth  player, Stephen Rogers, wasn't on scholarship, but also opted to leave, ending up at Brigham Young, where he was a valuable reserve last season. It's a lot of turnover for a program struggling to find firm footing in the Pac-10, and it's starting to prove costly.

Haller's article focuses on ASU's inability to mesh well with a constantly-changing rotation, but there's more to the problem. The second piece of the puzzle was unearthed by the Eugene Register-Guard, which follows the Oregon hoops program.

Players leave, and are replaced, as Oregon has been doing.

What sticks around are the effects of those changes on academic reports produced by the NCAA, and Oregon’s recent trend of player departures before they conclude their eligibility and receive their diplomas is going to result in some unfavorable numbers for the Ducks in future years.

“It is a concern,” Altman said. “It’s more transition than we would like.”

In the most common reporting tool used, following incoming freshmen, Oregon is currently in a five-year period in which at most five players of the 15 who came in as scholarship freshmen will graduate from the UO.

The Register-Guard, in addition to correctly zeroing in on the Academic Progress Report as an indicator of possible future danger, recognizes the more immediate issue of negative recruiting. Other coaches will use Oregon's high turnover rate to insinuate that there's something wrong in Eugene, Oregon, and that Recruit X would be much happier elsewhere, specifically in that opposing coach's program.
The recent focus on the Pac-12 has been all about how much money the league's TV deal is worth. Some might feel that the financial success of the growing conference diminishes concerns over the league's reduced profile, but that seems short-sighted. TV revenue always revolves around football, and a declining basketball product isn't going to attract many eyeballs in the winter, not if viewers have the option of switching to another network to watch potentially more meaningful games every weekend. Knowing that only two or three teams have realistic NCAA tournament resumes each season is robbing the venerable league of some past glory.

There will always be transfers and early NBA entries. For the long-term health of Pac-12 hoops, however, coaches and athletic directors need to put their heads together and find a way to slow the bleeding.

Photo: US Presswire
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 19, 2011 8:46 pm

Arizona win proves Pac-10 is not soft

The Pac-10 soft? I don't think so.

Posted by Eric Angevine

When Derrick Williams blocked Darnell Gant's potential game-winner out of bounds with one second left, he distilled all of the game's truly nasty intensity into throwing back a layup that he probably should have just tapped to run out the clock.

Such a gentle ending would have been a severe disappointment after the knock-down drag-out game in the McKale Center. The game was played inside a howling maelstrom of white-clad Wildcat fans, under the auspices of an officiating crew who seemed to feel they were calling a playground event. Nobody was complaining, though. In a heavyweight brawl, you expect to see a little blood.

In a game that was fueled by pure will, both teams had plenty of heroes. For the visitors, Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored 24 with 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 6 blocks. If there was a bigger overall stat line elsewhere in the nation, I'd like to see it. Pint-sized Isaiah Thomas dished out 9 assists, and freshman C.J. Wilcox came off the bench to hit 4-8 from deep as part of a 19 point effort.

That was a nice individual effort by Wilcox, but it pales in comparison to the Wildcat team effort. The Wildcats went 11-18 for a stunning 61 percent deep-shooting percentage and got nice rebounding games from Solomon Hill (7 boards) and Jesse Perry (6) in support of Williams.

Williams made his usual big impression even though Bryan-Amaning was probably the player of the game. The likely top-5 NBA draft pick had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks, the last one being the most valuable in spite of Williams' use of excessive force.

Arizona is rounding into the kind of team that will claw for every win, and Washington showed why they were the preseason favorites in the Pac-10. The UCLA Bruins get a shot at both teams before the season is over, so this league is far from settled. However it plays out, this game should give the lie to the popular conception that the Pac-10 has gone soft.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com